Divided Supremes rule for Hobby Lobby

This is this morning’s big news:

The Supreme Court struck a key part of President Obama’s health-care law Monday, ruling that some companies may refuse to offer insurance coverage of specific birth control methods if they conflict with the owner’s religious beliefs.

In a 5 to 4 ruling that pitted religious freedom against equal benefits for female workers, the court’s conservatives decided that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) gave employers the right to withhold certain birth control methods from insurance coverage.

The contraceptive mandate “clearly imposes a substantial burden” on the owner’s beliefs, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority.

It was the first time that the court had decided that the federal law covers corporations, not just the “persons” referred to in its text….

Since Pew says I’m in the “Faith and Family Left,” I suppose this is a win for my “side.” So, yay us.

OK, that sounded facetious — but only because I find the notion of “sides” that always agree amongst themselves absurd. On the substance, I suppose I’m with the majority of the court. If I hadn’t been already, then one of the sillier Tweets I saw objecting to the decision would have pushed me in that direction:

Well, then, if that’s the case, then you don’t want your employer providing you with birth control. Since, you know, it’s not any of his or her business. (I probably should have just said “his” there, instead of “his or her,” since the sort of person who would post something like that Tweet probably pictures a male as the big, bad boss.) There are some self-described feminists who get into such a rhetorical rut (in this case, the “keep your laws off my body” rut) that they fail to recognize instances when their habitual rhetoric fails to serve their cause. In this case, the ACA mandates that employers take a paternalistic (sticking with the “employer as male” stereotype) interest in one’s “reproductive choices.”

If you’d like to read the whole decision by the court, here it is.

128 thoughts on “Divided Supremes rule for Hobby Lobby

  1. Doug Ross

    It was so much overkill for this case to even reach the Supreme Court. Nobody was denying any woman the right to birth control, only who should pay for it. Nobody was forcing a woman to work for Hobby Lobby if she disagreed so strongly with her employer’s policies. Onwers of a company should have the right to choose whatever insurance policies they want to provide and if that impacts the quality of employees they can hire, they will change.

    If you want birth control, buy it.

    1. scout

      You could just as easily say no one is forcing anybody to run a business. If they know that providing health insurance to people of all beliefs according to the standard of care of the medical profession is a requirement to run a business, they can chose to not run a business if that will conflict with their beliefs. They can work for someone else. No one is saying they can’t earn a living.

      Why is that any more ridiculous than your statement that no woman has to work for an employer whose policies she disagrees with. Which one is likely to have more options? If you are living in poverty and desperately need a job, and job offers aren’t plentiful, do you realistically have the luxury to turn that job down?

          1. Doug Ross

            And the politics didn’t happen until Obamacare overstepped its bounds. Obamcare forced this issue into the political spectrum.

        1. scout

          If you think engaging in commerce impinges on your religious freedom, then you can choose to not do it. No one is making you.

          The problem here is not one person’s religious freedom, it’s the way one person’s practicing of their religion impinges on others who have different beliefs.

          Unless it is a tenet of hobby lobby’s religion that they must run a business, I don’t see how their ability to practice their religion is infringed.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            Ok, so your answer to that question is, “Yes”. You’re saying that the people who own Hobby Lobby should either comply with a law that imposes a substantial burden on their religion, OR they should simply not engage in business.

            The problem is, that’s not the law.

      1. Doug Ross

        “f they know that providing health insurance to people of all beliefs according to the standard of care of the medical profession is a requirement to run a business”

        But it isn’t a requirement to run a business… or it wasn’t a requirement until Obamacare forced it to be for companies with more than 50 employees. Insurance benefits were considered a benefit that companies offered to attract employees. It wasn’t mandated.

        “If you are living in poverty and desperately need a job, and job offers aren’t plentiful, do you realistically have the luxury to turn that job down?”

        Why does it ALWAYS have to fall back to the poor and the children? It doesn’t make your case to try and turn it into emotional blackmail. If you are poor and the ONLY job that is available is to work at Hobby Lobby, you take the job and you buy your own morning after pill when you need it. Or you go to Planned Parenthood and get it for free. Or you use your Medicaid benefits to get it. Nobody has removed any option from any person to obtain the birth control they want. All that has been removed is the option to get it for “free”. That’s it. Nothing else.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I was thinking about writing a separate post about that.

      I’m not sure how important it really is. The justices did NOT rule that state employees can’t be compelled to pay union dues. Instead, they ruled that the particular individuals involved in this case were NOT technically public employees, and therefore don’t have to pay the dues.

      Justice won’t be done until no public employee is compelled to pay union dues. And of course, I won’t be entirely satisfied until public employee unions cease to exist

      1. Doug Ross

        “And of course, I won’t be entirely satisfied until public employee unions cease to exist…”

        Agreed. Mark that down…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    My position favoring the ruling does not keep me from enjoying this Nicholas Kristof Tweet:

    That’s the nice thing about being on neither the left nor the right. Both the ruling, and the Kristof Tweet, are in the Faith and Family Left wheelhouse…

  3. Doug Ross

    An interesting comment on Andrew Sullivan:

    “The narrowness of this ruling not only exposes it as the most blatantly political since Bush v. Gore, it is also the most blatantly Catholic, the result, I am said to suggest, of having five Catholic conservatives in the majority.”

    I think people on both sides are reading WAY too much into this decision. It’s limited to a specific type of company. It doesn’t preclude any woman from obtaining birth control in any way, shape, or form. The employer has no business knowing if a woman uses it. The supposed victims in this case are specifically women of child bearing age who want “free” access to birth control and who work for a very small set of companies that have a known insurance benefit based on religious beliefs. This doesn’t affect all women… every woman who goes to work for Hobby Lobby now knows what that means. Don’t like it? Work somewhere else.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Wait a sec — there were only FIVE Catholics in the majority? Who was the one who… oh. Sotomayor.

      I see that Sotomayor was the only one in complete agreement with Ginsberg’s dissent. Breyer and Kagan only partly agreed.

      So I wonder — where would a Protestant justice end up, if there were such a creature?

    2. Barry

      Actually the women effected by this decision that work for Hobby Lobby already have paid birth control to all sorts of options that Hobby Lobby didn’t object to at all.

      i think the ruling only made sense – and was glad to see it.

    3. Kathryn Braun Fenner

      It does preclude those who cannot afford it on what they make, except that Obamacare may have a work around.

      1. Barry

        Then they can work somewhere else. No one forces them to work at Hobby Lobby- certainly not Hobby Lobby.

        Hobby Lobby already pays more than mimimum wage for cashiers and hourly people- and they have access to 16 birth control options under their current plan.

        This is not complicated. If you don’t like the benefit package where you work- find another employer.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    I found this interesting:

    Kennedy wrote separately to say that the court’s opinion “does not have the breadth and sweep ascribed to it” by Ginsburg’s “respectful and powerful dissent.”

    So… Kennedy was saying, in a polite way, that Ginsberg should chill, that she was overreacting. Interesting that a Supreme Court justice would be moved to write that…

  5. Norm Ivey

    The ruling only applies to contraceptives that work after fertilization. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga argued that IUDs and emergency contraceptives may work on fertilized eggs, and those are the only forms of contraception that are included in the ruling. Employees of the two firms will still have access to other birth control methods (such as the pill).

    The odd thing about this case to my mind is that it doesn’t matter how medicine defines “abortion”; all that matters is that these firms believe these methods cause abortions of fertilized eggs.

    1. Barry

      and those two birth control methods that Hobby Lobby objected to don’t stop STDs or HIV. (Many other birth control options that Hobby Lobby pays for do stop STDs and HIV.

      So they aren’t the best choices of one is supposedly “concerned about the health of the woman” anyway.

      1. Norm Ivey

        Are there any contraceptives that prevent STDs besides condoms? I don’t think Obamacare® requires health plans to cover condoms.

        1. Barry

          YOu are correct and I was wrong.

          What I was trying to say is that contraceptives aren’t risk free. They don’t stop STDs.

          I object to this “war on women’s health care” meme that seems to running around out of the mouths of some.

          Hobby Lobby’s plan covers many contraceptives including the pill. They objected to just a few.

          1. Mark Stewart

            I object to people picking and choosing their medical science for others. This, while entirely reasonable on many fronts, also smacks of the flat earth syndrome.

            1. Doug Ross

              @Mark – Nobody is choosing their medical science for others. Hobby Lobby is not preventing any employee from getting any pill or procedure. They just chose to not provide an insurance plan that offers a very specific set of options related to conception. Is this that different than a company that provides insurance coverage that doesn’t cover experimental cancer drugs?

            2. Mark Stewart

              Doug, I don’t think this case, as narrowly constructed as it is, has much real bearing on anything.

              That said, you might remember that I am a firm believer in decoupling health insurance from company benefits. This is just a very minor example of why that would be good (the key reason is that it would boost labor mobility and innovation in the economy).

              What I found interesting was that in negotiating this narrow ruling which is clearly an attempt at satisfying everyone politically, the ones left out in the cold are the Catholic Church affiliated entities – and those of every other religion – that would seek to project their political viewpoints onto their employees, etc. If this ruling only protects closely-held individual and family-owned employing entities, then that leaves other kinds of more widely held entities unable to pick and choose in this irrational manner of hot-button, of the moment politics.

            3. Doug Ross

              But it’s not “hot button politics” driving Hobby Lobby. It’s not political for them. It’s moral based on their religious beliefs. Obama made it political. The owners of the company believe that morning after pills are the equivalent of abortion and do not want to pay for them. I’m sure they would much prefer NOT to be engaged in the political firestorm Obamacare created. The driving political force here is the Obama administration…

            4. Barry

              Hobby Lobby isn’t picking or choosing anything.

              Unless I missed it – Hobby Lobby doesn’t control what their employees buy- and they aren’t intersted in doing that.

              They don’t want to pay for a few select drug options – they cover others that would prevent pregnancy.

              Creating red herrings isn’t helpful.

            5. Bryan Caskey

              I don’t think this ruling is explicitly limited to closely held corporations. In fact, I think Alito makes that point quite clearly in this section of the majority opinion.

              “In holding that the HHS mandate is unlawful, we reject HHS’s argument that the owners of the companies forfeited all RFRA protection when they decided to organize their businesses as corporations rather than sole proprietorships or general partnerships. The plain terms of RFRA make it perfectly clear that Congress did not discriminate in this way against men and women who wish to run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the manner required by their religious beliefs.”

              Specifically, Alito goes on to discuss how “persons” cannot include non-profit corporations (which HHS concedes it does) but not also include for-profit corporations (which was the issue in dispute here).

              In my opinion, the two fundamental problems with the government’s argument were:

              1. HHS could not show that the mandate for Hobby Lobby to facilitate access to contraceptive drugs or devices that operate after conception was the most narrowly tailored way of achieving the government’s objective. (Under RFRA, you have to show this.)

              2. HHS didn’t have a very good answer as to why they gave non-profit corporations an exception to the rule but not to for-profit corporations.

              Alito makes the second point in this section of the majority opinion:

              “HHS concedes that a nonprofit corporation can be a ‘person’ within the meaning of RFRA…This concession effectively dispatches any argument that the term “person” as used in RFRA does not reach the closely held corporations involved in these cases. No known understanding of the term “person” includes some but not all corporations…The term ‘person’ sometimes encompasses artificial persons (as the Dictionary Act instructs), and it sometimes is limited to natural persons. But no conceivable definition of the term includes natural persons and nonprofit corporations, but not for-profit corporations.”

  6. bud

    I don’t have a huge problem with the Hobby Lobby ruling except that it does set a sort of precedent that could lead to companies denying service or hiring based on religious grounds. What would stop a company from firing someone because they’re gay and that violates their religious beliefs. Or denying service to Muslims.

    Perhaps the bigger point here is why we haven’t settled this contraception argument by now? Birth control is essentially a public good that serves the public at large by preventing over-population. Seems like with a world flooded with 7 billion souls we should be actively pursuing and encouraging people to use contraceptives. That was at least part of the rationale behind the ACA requirement.

    And lastly as to Doug’s point about women seeking employment elsewhere. Seriously? Do you really believe that’s a viable option for some women? Let’s give people more employment options to people by increasing the size of government payrolls. That way bigoted companies like Hobby Lobby might be forced to offer adequate benefits.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      “Unlike competitors, my hobby shop provides all employees with all legal reproductive health services.”

      How hard is that? Let the market work it out.

      (Crazy, I know.)

    2. Doug Ross

      For every Hobby Lobby, there is an equivalent Michael’s usually within a mile. If you don’t like an employers business practices, don’t work there. Our start your own company – it’s so easy to do that and get rich.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Look Doug: We can’t have differing viewpoints on stuff like contraception here in America. If you let a few people do what they want, then the next thing you know, someone else is going to want to do their own special thing. And we just can’t have that.

        We need to have one set of values, and it needs to be imposed by the federal government, for the good of the collective.

      2. Kathryn Braun Fenner

        Not in Aiken, and my mom made me very proud when she vowed not to shop at HL any more. She is a lifelong crafter. Mail order from now on!

        1. Barry

          My wife will more than make it for it- with 3 kids in the house.

          She told me yesterday that she’s going to stop shopping at Hobby Lobby even more now. She brought the issue up after hearing the court decision on the radio.

          We’ve got a new Hobby Lobby near our house anyway so that will be easy. I’ve shopped there a few times – very nice folks. The folks there are very helpful. The cashier actually helped me find a coupon on my phone for 30% off a “make your own paver” craft thing that I wanted for my 6 year old daugther so we can get her handprint in stone.

    3. Bryan Caskey

      “What would stop a company from firing someone because they’re gay and that violates their religious beliefs. Or denying service to Muslims.”

      Bud, the Court specifically answered that question:

      “We do not hold, as the principal dissent alleges, that for-profit corporations and other commercial enterprises can ‘opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.’ Nor do we hold, as the dissent implies, that such corporations have free rein to take steps that impose ‘disadvantages . . . on others’ or that require ‘the general public [to] pick up the tab.’ And we certainly do not hold or suggest that ‘RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on . . . thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby.'”

      It’s quite clear that the majority opinion here is limited to this one case.

      1. Norm Ivey

        How common is that in court rulings, Bryan? It sounds to me like the court is saying “This ruling cannot be considered a precedent in future cases.” Can they do that?

        1. Bryan Caskey

          It’s quite common at the SCOTUS level. And in this instance it makes complete sense. Although bud can’t see it, the difference between an employer refusing to provide a certain type of abortifacient isn’t the same as an employer discriminating against gays or muslims.

          But because the Justices are smart, they address this issue. The majority opinion makes a very clear distinction that it’s very important for people to understand before they accept the invitation to become all fired up over crazy possibility that people will claim religious exemptions from laws that restrict businesses that are causing harm to others.

          Remember the standard of review: That’s always the most important thing in almost every appellate case. Under RFRA, when the federal government imposes a substantial burden on the exercise of religion, it must justify that burden by showing that it is the least restrictive means of achieving a compelling governmental interest.

          In this instance, the compelling government interest is comprehensive preventative health care for women. Basically, the Court said that requiring Hobby Lobby to include coverage of ALL contraceptives in its health care plan was NOT the least restrictive way to to serve that interest. Essentially, there are other ways the government could get the cost of contraceptives covered, ways that wouldn’t rope in the employer. For instance, just collecting general taxes and providing it for free, like bud suggests. Accordingly, bud has acknowledged why Hobby Lobby won. There was another way to achieve the government’s goal – without involving Hobby Lobby.

          WIth me so far?

          But when the feds bans discrimination on race (or gender, or religion, or whatever), it is serving a compelling interest in banning that type of discrimination and there is no alternative way to achieve that end – other than to ban it. With a company discriminates on the basis of race or whatever, they are the problem that the government is trying to solve. That can only be done by regulating the company itself. Therefore, it almost HAS to be the least restrictive way to meet the compelling interest.

          Do you see the difference? In the Hobby Lobby case, the employer is the source of the JOB that provides the benefits – as employers historically do. In racial (or whatever) discrimination, the employer is the source of the PROBLEM the government seeks to solve.

          So, the possibility that this will lead to the Court allowing religious objections for other things where the company is the SOURCE OF THE HARM is virtually zero.

          Ok, time for bed.

          1. Michael Rodgers

            I second Doug’s thanks for this comment and also thank you for your other legal analysis comments — clear, informative, and on point.

          2. Doug Ross

            Supreme Court Justice Caskey has a nice ring to it… Swap out Ginsburg and we’ll be set for the next generation.

            1. Mark Stewart

              The worst Justice, with no near peer, is Clarence Thomas. It is most unfortunate that he is among the youngest on the court.

  7. Rose

    If Hobby Lobby’s owners really want to hold to their beliefs then they should drop their holdings in the pharmaceutical companies that make those contraceptive and abortion products.

    1. Barry

      I think they probably wil

      but of course liberals will have to drop their holdings in some of those evil profit making pharmaceutical companies as well

      and a host of companies that may have “questionable” funds.

      1. Rose

        If they have holdings in companies that are antithetical to their beliefs, then yes, they should drop them, especially if they make a big, public deal about their beliefs, as the Hobby Lobby owners have.

        1. Barry

          I see Al Sharpton, and MSNBC talkers every day screaming about the war on women – and the evil 1% (They often don’t say some of their best buddies are in the 1%)

          Should we examine their “holdings” in mutual funds to make sure none of them have investments in a gun maker, or say a wall street firm?

          If we are going to go that far- let’s go all the way. What about your funds? Have you investigated all of them?

          If you own an index fund – as many Americans do – then you are guilty as well – because there is a 100% chance that some of the companies you invest in don’t share your beliefs – or contribute to politicans that don’t agree with you.

          Does your mutal fund portfolio invest in any Koch Brothers entities? What about your IRAs, or various other retirement funds?

          If we are going to call on others to be 100% consistent- let’s start at home with our own funds.

  8. Doug Ross

    Barry keeps making this point but it needs to be emphasized over and over to counteract the faux hysteria over the Hobby Lobby decision.

    “Of the twenty forms of contraception mandated as covered in the ACA, Hobby Lobby agreed to fund all but four of them, the ones that could, in their view, be seen as abortifacients.”

    That’s all it was about. Not about preventative birth control but about “oops” birth control.

    There is no war on women in this case (or most cases).

    1. Norm Ivey

      The only problem I have with the ruling is the “in their view” part. The medical science behind IUDs and morning after pills wasn’t discussed at all. There’s conflicting information out there about both of them, but neither looks like they were designed as abortificants. All the firms had to do was assert their beliefs that they were abortificants. Maybe one of our resident lawyers can help me understand why the science wasn’t at least been debated.

        1. Doug Ross

          Is there absolute agreement within the scientific community as to when life begins? If there is some evidence/belief that life begins at conception, wouldn’t it be valid for a person who does not believe in aborting a life be allowed to not fund medical procedures that terminate that life?

          This is about a very specific set of birth control procedures. Nothing else. Any woman has a variety of options to prevent getting pregnant. 16 of 20 are covered. And that doesn’t include all the other options available to women (and their partners).

          This is a major case about a very minor specific circumstance.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          Oh, come now. That sounds like something Sandra Fluke would say. In fact, she did.

          There is no way “religion trumps science” here. The only way these methods are not abortifacient is if you define “abortion” so that they are not…

          As Doug says, there is no scientific absolute as to when life begins. So science is only on your side if you define your terms your way…

          1. Norm Ivey

            Even with the strictest definition of abortion as the destruction of a fertilized egg–even one that has not implanted in the uterus, there’s room for debate about morning after pills. Morning after pills are designed to prevent an egg from being released from the ovary while there are still viable sperm floating around in the Fallopian tubes. They’re designed to prevent fertilization, not to abort a fertilized egg. There is disagreement about whether they also have an abortificant effect. I’m just puzzled by the complete lack of discussion about how they work.

      1. Barry

        It wasn’t an issue.

        The goverment basically gave them that issue- they didn’t see it as important either way.

  9. Bryan Caskey

    Question for everyone who is upset about the Hobby Lobby decision:

    Does your employer provide you with a Colt 1911 model handgun free of charge?

    1. Kathryn Braun Fenner

      There is no legal mandate to do so, unlike the mandate under the Affordable Care Act.

      1. Barry

        “There is no legal mandate to do so”

        Not yet anyway. I’d imagine if there was a legal mandate to do so- some liberals would be quite upset about it and would be in from of the SCOTUS to argue against it.

          1. Brad Warthen

            In my case he would, because I’m pretty sure I can’t afford one in my present state of pecuniary strangulation…

            But then, it would cost a lot more than the Pill…

            1. Bryan Caskey

              Therein lies the fundamental disagreement that we have. Employers pay employees wages in exchange for labor. The employees can then spend it as they wish. The could chose to buy a cell phone, buy a car, buy a really sweet Colt Talo model 1911, or buy some abortifacients. I reject the premise that because an employee “cannot otherwise afford” something, their employer is denying it. Budget your money, save up, and you can afford whatever you choose. Different people make different choices. Buy what you like.

              You know, whatever floats your boat.

              Freedom: Y’all leftists should really try it one of these days.

  10. Doug Ross

    Hobby Lobby pays a minimum wage of $14 per hour to its employees. Seems like those who might on those hopefully very rare occasions need a morning after pill could pay for it.

    1. Barry

      That’s for full time hourly employees. They’ve given their hourly workers a raise 5 years in a row. (You’ll never hear President Obama bragging on them- even though he likes to brag on companies that may more than the minimum wage)

      They pay their part time workers $9.50 an hour which is up from $9 an hour. (They gave them the raise earlier this year).

      “For Hobby Lobby worker Heidi Cranor, the extra dollar an hour she’ll now earn means a lot.

      Cranor, 43, is a single mom to a 5-year-old boy and works full time in the framing department of the Edmond store. She said the company’s across-the-board minimum wage increase to $14 an hour says a lot about the Oklahoma City company she joined a year ago

      “It’s just amazing to me how the company values its employees,” she said. “I’m thankful for it today.”


      1. Doug Ross

        The best response obviously is to boycott Hobby Lobby so the single mom will lose her job. That will show those greedy capitalists!

  11. bud

    This whole discussion illustrates how utterly ridiculous our health care system is. If we had a single-payer system it’s obvious that the contraceptions banned by HL are completely a personal decision that would not violate anyone’s principles. When we mandate something in a narrow perspective like much of the ACA does then we naturally get into these religious-freedom, gray areas. Too bad the government can’t just provide these devices/drugs free for anyone who wants them and leave it at that. But nooooo. So now half of America is really pissed while the other half smugly gloats about what a victory they’ve scored. Aren’t we all in this together? Or is that asking too much.

  12. Kathryn Braun Fenner

    So much mansplainin going on here. That and folks who do not fully appreciate how fortunate they are, literally. Poverty ain’t for sissies, nor is even just average income.

    1. Doug Ross

      Facts don’t have a gender. This isn’t about men, women, poor, or rich. It’s about a privately held company not wanting to offer insurance for a specific set of procedures that women can still get on their own.

      Trying to make it more than what it is doesn’t change the facts.

      1. Doug Ross

        But I guess it’s fine to try and turn it into a battle of powerful men holding down weak women if you want to.

        1. Barry

          It’s easier to process if you label those in opposition as the “bad old guys”

          it’s harder to do so when some of those “bad old men” are in reality – 30 and 40 something year old moms.

      2. Kathryn Braun Fenner

        They cannot get on their own if they cannot afford it. If and only if ACA extends the same workaround to for profits as it does to non….

        But the symbolism is hurtful to so many of us.

        1. Barry

          They have jobs- and decent paying jobs – especially if they are full time compared to most retail places.

          If they take advantage of the birth control options that are covered under their health plan- free of copays- they won’t need any other form.

          1. Kathryn Braun Fenner

            Birth control is very tricky. Many, many women can only use one or two kinds. $600 plus surgical fees for an IUD is out of reach for many families, even with the $28k a full- time Hobby Lobby job at $14/ hr. grosses a year.

            Like I said, mansplaining from relatively wealthy folks…

            1. Barry

              Then those employees that want/need IUDs need to go work for someone else.

              Please prove to me where anyone is required to work for Hobby Lobby. I’ll wait for your proof. Please share it quickly though.

      3. Brad Warthen Post author

        Doug says, “Facts don’t have a gender.”

        John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things.”

        Which suggests that they DO have a gender — they’re female. 🙂

        JOKE! It was a JOKE! It had a smiley face and everything!…

    2. Barry

      Nah – that’s just a cheap way out – “if not for those evil men”

      My wife – who only speaks for herself – is heading to Hobby Lobby tomorrow for a show of moral support.

      (btw- her first job out of grad school was as a waitress – and yes- she paid for her own pills)

      1. Doug Ross

        It may be spot on but it has nothing to do with the Hobby Lobby decision. What aspect of the decision is related to poverty?

        1. Doug Ross

          I’d say the issue of poor women deciding to HAVE children is a much bigger problem than poor women not having an employer provided option for morning after pills to prevent them. The quickest path to poverty is to have a child when you can’t afford it.

    1. Michael Rodgers

      Here is a detailed post from one woman’s viewpoint on the ruling. A lot of women are upset about this ruling and rightly so because they were expecting to go to work and get their insurance like every man but now they have to do something different. And many married men will have to do something different to cover their wives. All because Justice Kennedy thought that extending Obama’s nonprofit exemption to closely-held for profits wouldn’t be a big deal.

      1. Emperor Joseph II

        Kennedy’s concurring opinion didn’t touch on the issue of non-profit vs. for-profit corporations. He didn’t even mention that. Kennedy’s concurring opinion focused on the fact that HHS did not use the least restrictive means necessary to accomplish a compelling government interest.

        “But the Government has not made the second showing required by RFRA, that the means it uses to regulate is the least restrictive way to further its interest. As the Court’s opinion explains, the record in these cases shows that there is an existing, recognized, workable, and already-implemented framework to provide coverage. That framework is one that HHS has itself devised, that the plaintiffs have not criticized with a specific objection that has been considered in detail by the courts in this litigation, and that is less restrictive than the means challenged by the plaintiffs in these cases.” -Kennedy’s Concurring Opinion

        It seems that Kennedy couldn’t get over the fact that HHS had a system in place to deal with this issue, and simply chose not to use that system, but rather, elected to attempt to force a company to do something it didn’t want to do.

        While waiting on hold (with a government office) I had time to compose this short play, which I call: “Kennedy’s Concurring Opinion”. I hope you all like it.

        HHS: Welcome to our office here at HHS. Here, drink some coffee.
        Hobby Lobby: I only drink decaf coffee, but I see you have some of that. Since you have that available, I’ll take that.
        HHS: Decaf coffee is for other people, not you! Drink this regular coffee! Do it!
        Hobby Lobby: Look, you’ve got plenty of decaf coffee for everyone. It’s right there. Can I just have some decaf?
        HHS: We get to decide what kind of coffee you get. Now drink this regular coffee!
        Hobby Lobby: Hey…I didn’t come here to argue. If this is going to be a problem, I’ll just leave.
        HHS: No. You’re not going anywhere. You’re going to sit here and drink some coffee, and it’s going to be regular!
        Hobby Lobby: Ummmm….can I speak to your supervisor or something?

        Supervisor Kennedy: What’s the problem here?
        HHS: This person won’t drink the regular coffee. They’re demanding decaf!
        Supervisor Kennedy: What’s this marked “Decaf right here”?
        HHS: That’s decaf coffee.
        Supervisor Kennedy: Looks like you have plenty of decaf. And didn’t I just see you give decaf coffee to the last person?
        HHS: Yeah, but the last person was wearing a suit, and this guy is sitting here wearing a t-shirt!
        Supervisor Kennedy: Seems kind of arbitrary if you ask me. You’re telling me that you made all this coffee, and made both decaf and regular, so as to give it to people who came to your office, but you don’t want to accommodate this particular guy’s choice?
        HHS: Yes.
        Supervisor Kennedy: Give this guy some decaf.


      2. Barry

        BTW Michael – that linked article is ludicrous – her spin is strong (and my wife would disagree with her over and over- so plenty of women are happy with the decision too)

        I quote ” If, in the wake of this ruling, your boss drops contraceptive coverage and you can’t afford your birth control, your access has been significantly affected”

        That’s not an issue in this case. Hobby Lobby didn’t argue that- the court didn’t say that – and it’s not happening.

        Red herrings aren’t helpful regardless of who raises them.

      3. Brad Warthen Post author

        Michael, since you recommended that “detailed post,” I leaped to the conclusion that it would be a calm and rational one. Then I got there, saw the “Go Home SCOTUS You Are Drunk” picture, and started reading, “If you’re anything like me, the last 36 hours or so have been filled with rage, tears, and yelling obscenities at the Supreme Court…”

        Does anyone have a link to a calm explanation of the view of those opposed to the ruling — you know, something that might make a serious attempt to persuade someone who disagrees, as opposed to resonating with the faithful?

        1. Bryan Caskey

          Go read the dissent. I always find myself reading the majority opinion and nodding my head in agreement. Then I get to the dissenting opinion, and I start nodding my head in agreement.

          These are tough issues. SCOTUS doesn’t get the easy questions. These Justices are smart. Ginsburg makes a good argument.

          For instance, I find this point in the dissent to be strong:

          “Undertaking the inquiry that the Court forgoes, I would conclude that the connection between the families’ religious objections and the contraceptive coverage requirement is too attenuated to rank as substantial. The requirement carries no command that Hobby Lobby or Conestoga purchase or provide the contraceptives they find objectionable. Instead, it calls on the companies covered by the requirement to direct money into undifferentiated funds that finance a wide variety of benefits under comprehensive health plans. Those plans, in order to comply with the ACA, must offer contraceptive coverage without cost sharing, just as they must cover an array of other preventive services.

          Importantly, the decisions whether to claim benefits under the plans are made not by Hobby Lobby or Conestoga, but by the covered employees and dependents, in consultation with their health care providers. Should an employee of Hobby Lobby or Conestoga share the religious beliefs of the Greens and Hahns, she is of course under no compulsion to use the contraceptives in question. But “[n]o individual decision by an employee and her physician-be it to use contraception, treat an infection, or have a hip replaced-is in any meaningful sense [her employer’s] decision or action.”

          I think that’s an important point. Hobby Lobby isn’t buying the drugs directly. They are directing money to an insurance company that will ultimately buy the drugs, and then, IF and ONLY IF, the employee herself requests the drugs. Honestly, that’s a fairly tenuous connection to Hobby Lobby. So it’s arguable that the mandate doesn’t SUBSTANTIALLY burden religion – it’s too tenuous of a connection.

          I find that to be a lucid, intelligent, and well thought out objection to the majority opinion.

          1. Michael Rodgers

            Again, Bryan’s legal analysis is absolutely cogent. Heck, even his ludicrous play is perfectly correct in its legal analysis, in this layperson’s opinion.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            Thank you, Judge Haller. I agree. I have tremendous respect for the court, because I appreciate the way their minds work. I hate seeing the court referred to in simplistic left-right terms. These are thinking people who respect the Rule of Law, and they deserve our respect.

          1. Barry

            decentl link even if from the LA Times.
            Liberals are mad at the decision- most conservative people are happy with it.

            That’s fine- and predictable.

  13. Barry

    They don’t have to do anything different. It’s their choice. Hobby Lobby’s plan covers birth control.

    If they want Plan B – they can pay for it- just like I have to pay for one of my blood pressure medications out of my pocket because it’s what my doctor prefers- and my plan offers no help on that particular medication.

    THE ACA gives states running their own marketplace the ability to offer some drugs and not others. Not all drugs are covered under every plan. My own health plan doesn’t allow me any drug my doctor wants.

    Hobby Lobby’s health plan includes access, copay-free, to the following categories of FDA-approved birth-control:
    1.Male condoms
    2.Female condoms
    3.Diaphragms with spermicide
    4.Sponges with spermicide
    5.Cervical caps with spermicide
    6.Spermicide alone
    7.Birth-control pills with estrogen and progestin (“Combined Pill)
    8.Birth-control pills with progestin alone (“The Mini Pill)
    9.Birth control pills (extended/continuous use)
    10.Contraceptive patches
    11.Contraceptive rings
    12.Progestin injections
    13.Implantable rods
    15.Female sterilization surgeries
    16.Female sterilization implants

    1. Doug Ross

      Barry – it is not about what the Hobby Lobby decision IS, it is about what it MIGHT BE.

      It’s not about the specific, very limited number of women impacted by the decision, it is about ALL WOMEN and ALL BIRTH CONTROL and MEN’S POWER OVER WOMEN.

      Please report to counter 7 to get your large glass of Kool Aid.

      1. Michael Rodgers

        It’s about how it has already been expanded. Who could have predicted?

        And getting back to the economic argument: Let’s imagine Bobbi Cobbi who works at Hobby Lobby. Before the Supreme Court decision, her pay package included her wages (this is money that she gets for her labor) and her benefits (this is other stuff she gets, also for her labor), and the sum value of her wages and benefits make up her pay package (as I already explained in the previous part of this sentence). Isn’t mansplaining fun?

        After the Supreme Court decision, her benefits are likely to be reduced without an offsetting increase in wages. This means that she gets less for the same work. Let’s imagine Bobby Cobbi (no relation) also works at Hobby Lobby. The Supreme Court decision didn’t affect his benefits because he’s a man. He can’t get pregnant, no matter how much sex he has. He has no health issues for which birth control prescriptions will help him Thus Bobby will now be compensated more than Bobbi (using total compensation of wages and benefits and assuming that the Bobby and Bobbi have the same wages, unlikely I know).

        The Supreme Court’s solution to this problem is that Bobbi will have to get her birth control insurance from the government: If everything goes as planned, she will navigate somehow to enroll in the HHS program originally designed for nonprofits so that she can recoup her lost benefits that she previously had. This will mean decisions, deadlines, filling out forms, making phone calls, meeting with advisors, possibly missing work, and who knows what all, possibly with much stigmatizing observation from her bosses and coworkers. Justice Alito refers to this situation thusly, “The effect of the HHS-created accommodation on the women employed by Hobby Lobby and the other companies involved in these cases would be precisely zero.”

        Aah, I recognize there a master of mansplaining. Do you? Do you see the key word that shows the smug contempt of the master? Yes, it’s “precisely.” Let me explain….

        1. Barry

          “After the Supreme Court decision, her benefits are likely to be reduced without an offsetting increase in wages. This means that she gets less for the same work. ”

          If she’s using her benefits and any of the 16 possible options she has, she liley won’t need to use any of the ones she doesn’t get provided in her health plan.

          If I use my health benefits 20 times in a year, and my co-worker doesn’t use hers at all – is my coworker getting less for the same work? No one would buy that.

          Since my health plan doesn’t offer me coverage for a specific medication my doctor prescribes me – am I getting less benefit than my coworker that gets all of his meds covered?

          These leaps off the roof to explain something pretty simple isn’t helpful.

          We can come up with 2000 different scenarios.

          1. Doug Ross

            Shouldn’t this be about all the Hobby Lobby employees who are outraged about this decision and nothing else? Where is the furor from them? Where are the women employees demanding access to a specific set of birth control that MUST be paid for by their employer?

            I would imagine that, on the whole, the women who work for Hobby Lobby are generally pleased with their company. If they aren’t complaining, why is it the rest of the liberal universe’s issue?

            But, go ahead… shut down Hobby Lobby. That’ll show ’em!

            I was half hoping Hobby Lobby would lose the case and the owners would then pull an “Atlas Shrugged” move and just say “You want it? You got it. We’re shutting down operations tomorrow.”

            1. Barry

              People are conflating this issue so much it’s funny.

              I’m convinced some people commenting on this believe it’s federal law that sexually active women are required to put in a few years at Hobby Lobby and are prohibited from seeking other employment.

              She apparently believes that men can’t understand the issue at all- and us “wealthy folks” (which is laughable on it’s face) can’t quite figure it out.

              But it doesn’t matter. The court has spoken.

          2. Michael Rodgers

            Do you get an annual letter from your company that tells you how much you are really costing them? That’s the number I’m talking about. I’m not talking about the 2000 different scenarios about who gets what illness, how severe it is, what medicine is covered etc. I’m talking about the company and the employee, not about the employee and the employee’s doctor or pharmacist. An insurance plan that covers less has less of a dollar value. That’s it.
            You’re totally right of course that how much any individual ends up spending on whatever medicine they need is individual dependent and that different plans save different people different amounts of money.

            1. Barry

              Yes- I do.

              I have maternity coverage which increases the costs for my company – but I won’t be using that service – thanks – but no thanks.

              I don’t buy your scenario – “After the Supreme Court decision, her benefits are likely to be reduced without an offsetting increase in wages”

              # 1- “her” benefits aren’t reduced at Hobby Lobby. They haven’t been complying with the mandate. Any woman working for them is receiving the exact same benefits today that they were a year ago.

              #2 – My health plan at my current company has changed several times over the years. Some years it was better and covered more- some years it slid back a bit. Often the cost remained the same. In NONE of the years where the coverage wasn’t quite as good did my company pay me more in wages to off-set it.

            2. Michael Rodgers

              Comparable workers at comparable places are getting the mandated benefits as part of their compensation packages while female Hobby Lobby workers and male Hobby Lobby workers with wives will now — if they wish to continue working at Hobby Lobby and get the full mandated benefits that the law requires that other companies provide for their workers as part of their compensation packages — have to get the benefits Hobby Lobby is now permitted to deny them by navigating the HHS pathway originally designed for nonprofits.

            3. Barry

              “have to get the benefits Hobby Lobby is now permitted to deny them by navigating the HHS pathway originally designed for nonprofits.”

              Yes- HL is not paying for 4 drugs. The workers can still purchase whatever they wish to purchase.

              If the worker doesn’t like it, they are totally free to work somewhere else.

              Good decision.

      2. Barry

        People are funny when it comes to this issue.

        Saw a yacker on MSNBC yesterday saying that this decision robbed women of healthcare.

        Lies are funny sometimes. What is more amusing is some robots believe them.

  14. Michael Rodgers

    Justice Alito’s decision is that because HHS made an exception for religious nonprofits that exception must be extended to for-profits. His reasoning is based on his false conclusions that the exception “achieves all of the Government’s aims,” the definition of the word person cannot conceivably include “natural persons and nonprofit corporations, but not for-profit corporations,” and the effect of his ruling on women “would be precisely zero.” These are all extreme conclusions — written with extreme words (all, conceivable, precisely) — that fly in the face of reality. Moreover, the decision is a slippery slope: what you do for one you must do for all. I understand Justice Kennedy’s temptation to just go ahead and let Hobby Lobby get the religious exception (hey, what’s the big deal, it’s already implemented, etc.); I just think he was wrong to give in to that temptation.

    1. Barry

      I want the medical benefits that my friend gets working at UPS at my company. He has more benefits, and a better package. It would have helped me tremendously when my son broke his arm 2 years ago.

      But I don’t get them. If I wanted them, I could apply and seek a job at UPS. But I haven’t made that decision. Maybe I will in the future. But that’s on me. I’m not going to blame anyone because I have chosen not to work for UPS.

      I am very happy with the decision that was handed down.

      We aren’t going to agree – and I’m ok with that.

      1. Michael Rodgers

        Of course people can get different jobs and of course different companies can offer different pay packages with different benefit choices. The issue is the minimum allowed by law. It’s like the government set a minimum wage for all employers, made an exception that religious nonprofits can pay less than minimum with the difference being made up by the government, and now the Supreme Court extended that exception to any company that wants it, well, to lots of companies anyway.

        1. Barry

          The SCOTUS has ruled.

          If folks aren’t happy with their benefits- they can search out other benefits – at other companies or through other sources.

  15. Michael Rodgers

    When I was growing up, conservatives such as Alex P. Keaton knew in their bones what the difference was between for-profit companies and non-profit companies. Now, Justice Alito can’t conceive a difference. Is there no difference? What about the corporate veil for example? (While the link is to ultra-liberal dailykos, the linked post there is clear, rational and nonpartisan).

    I understand that Justice Kennedy is trying for very narrow win-win rulings (Hobby Lobby can get HHS’s non-profit exemption too, and Wheaton can just send a letter instead of filling out a form). I love win-win. I love narrow.

    The trouble is (1) people are having a hard time, and rightfully so, seeing and believing the narrowness and (2) people see the duty the government required companies to fulfill (and I believe that duty to be too attenuated to religion and very easy to fulfill) as potentially being unfulfilled, shifting the burden to the government, to insurance companies, and truly to women.

    Justice Alito says the burden on women will be “precisely zero.” The women on the Supreme Court believe that he is underestimating the burden. And it’s all very strange for the Supreme Court to say that filling out a form is such a huge burden that Wheaton must be relieved from it by an injunction while also saying that the burden on women who want insurance for birth control to inform the government (probably by filling out a form) is “precisely zero.”

    1. Barry

      I’m thrilled with the SC decision.

      I know liberals are upset. That’s not a concern of mine.

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